Posts Tagged ‘Soul Ripples’


There are many four letter words that have come out of my mouth during this journey, and have been applied to my life and the ripple effects with my family. My journey on healing from trauma was supported awesomely though by having family it allowed me the space to heal. Not only heal, but make the connections within my flashbacks to trace core memories of trauma that needed to be rooted out, and healed to create the ripple within my own person.

It did feel like energy and electricity bursting through my body and leaving during the sessions. It was amazing as the weeks between would pass and different emotions of the spectrum would be felt- both positive and negative.

Yet, the work I did between sessions I would not encourage someone without a healthy in home support network to do…for in the isolation it could very easily go from healing to suicidal, it was a trip into the darkness and trusting the light path to bring you out.

Yes I am a person of faith, and that faith whether out there or subtle have played a role in my life. The same with this journey, and I am glad that in my life prayer and action go hand in hand, and the constant dialogue within myself and the Holy Mystery is there. It was amazing as I began healing to see the different opportunities that opened up for me and my family, the different places where we could connect for joy, love and healing. Where our faith would be rewarded, and where we could see communities around us come out of their own struggles into a new dynamic understanding of belonging as happened with our home church in Calgary in regards to the faith challenged laid down by my son to them.

This is the winding road. The ripples like upon a river or lake created by a skipping stone. The soul ripples that answered the question, what happens when the helper needs help?

They discover who their true family is (whether blood or chosen, there are many who journeyed with us, and blessed us communally and individually that I may or may not have mentioned in these two volumes, to you all I say thank you). You also discover your own true self anew.

It was this sense that brought me to the remission appointment at the Foothills Hospital with my PhD. Psychologist where the healing began on February 14, 2019. Here I was entering the office once more on October 31, 2019…

Not knowing what may or may not come of the meeting, but one thing was certain.

Today was the day; I could firmly stand in my faith, in my healing.

It was the day where the four letter word that had carried my family through the darkness was fully lived and embraced. It was a beautiful four letters:

H-O-P-E-

My step into hope of the new dawn of my pilgrimage with Brother Jesus as I once more stepped into the office.


Many will say

There is no place or

Time left to let blame rest

Yet many need to understand the ripples

Their actions,

Words,

Have upon those they are inflicted upon.

In-Laws

Should be outlaws,

Not seeing the harm

They inflict

For they believe their crap

Don’t stink

Holier than thou

Of the non or believer holy rollers

Shattered souls

And lives

Finding respite

Relief,

Leave me

Under pressure

Confronted

Conflicted

Being stared through

With glassed over eyes

That has pain nulled,

Yet not healed or released

The seizures release falsely

Yet the cracks are there

As the pressures of life

And career mount

One glassy eyed stare

And the house of cards

The interior castle

The mind palace

Collapses

The colloquial straw upon the camel’s back

Or the angelic breaking of the back from the verse upon my Mummy’s urn,

A sad sack turn of phrase to appease another’s guilt.

Yet…

In the end…

Treatment awaits…

To heal

Rebirth

Reboot

The soul,

That had been broken,

And the sources,

Will never know

Or more aptly

Give a damn.


Letting the Light Shine

 

May 8, 2019 I would begin my intake for the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment. The intake would be completed on May 21, 2019 as we would begin to lay out goals and a plan moving forward. The light would begin being prepped to shine, but first we had to create a trauma hierarchy. Not the easiest to do, as the location of the clinic to get to and from, and wait for appointments was triggering central for me.

It was a time of simply sharing that which my system would allow come through in the moment, and the decision was made to simply start with the oldest in the next session.

When I write of the Sheldon Chumir Urgent Care Clinic being at triggering central, it is within the historic block radiuses of the boy and girls’ child sex trade strolls in Calgary. Moving down through the Down Town core took me past the shelters I used to serve in, witnessing the pain that I was a light in the darkness of, folks I used to journey with. The safe usage site was on the main floor of the Chumir.

It gave plenty of time to practice mindfulness, distraction, emotion understanding and inventory, and thought conversion. The hardest challenge being when you would attempt the deep breathing to slow your somatic roll, and end up with nostrils of the stench of Weed (skunk-like) and Crack (literally smells like someone lit feces on fire).

The upside, of the two part intake was figuring out where to go and what I wanted out of therapy. I wanted my life back. I wanted to be able to feel the spectrum of emotions well again, fully engage with my friends and family, and to figure out what comes next. It was under the catch all of putting the trauma at peace with my whole self. These were things I had experienced, and I no longer wanted them being the guiding force of my life.

This laid the ground work for the Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) to be used in my healing. See, the work most people forget is they either go hyper spiritual (all I need is prayer and the Holy Spirit) or they go hyper scientific looking for a pharmacological answer, or only a psychological one. When in all aspects it must look at all of you.

The Body Scan reminds us the inter-connectedness of our Thoughts-Emotions-Physical pain. The Medicine Wheel reminds us of the spiritual/soul aspect within all that. The connecting point is realizing that science (ala psychology for this) and spirituality are complementary. One will resonate with the why of your life, and why you want healing. The other is the how, the nuts and bolts of getting it done and maintaining it.

ART is done with a trained clinician, much in the way that Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy uses eye movement, so does ART in different ways. There is something about tapping into the conscious use of eye movements like when we are deep in dream state that brings the healing. No one is really clear of the whole how question, but there is enough there to know it works. As I told my new therapist in my goals, I was putting trust in her to lay the path out for us to work together to get through to the new.

ART would be that pathway, to re-enter the experiences and the emotions. The goal being release at the end of it.

 

 


Previous Soul Ripples

 

My family’s story in Soul Ripples (Bookstand Publishing, 2019) was the story seeking to understand my family. The stories of faith, healing, mental and physical health challenges, community, love, belonging and making choices of one path over another. One does not need to have read the previous book to enjoy this one, but it will flesh out the journey to this point.

The broad strokes are simple. It started in 2013 with a hand tremor that a walk in clinic doctor suggested I drink more water. By May 2016 and October 2016 a series of mysterious strokes, and seizures led me to visit the Peter Lougheed Centre of the Calgary General Hospital’s Emergency Room. After fighting with on-site staff that I was not a Fentanyl addict overdosing, testing showed that everything was normal. A few days of convalescence at home and I was back at work.

There was a progression of physical and emotional fatigue following the October 2016 visit, but always another person to help, another home to begin building with those in life recovery exiting homelessness. On July 1, 2017 I would suffer several events that would take my family out of our usual Canada Day Celebrations in the Village of Rosemary, Alberta.

By my 39th Birthday of that year, August 15, I would begin daily visits to the Emergency Room for unexplained seizure activity, white frothy vomit, tremoring left arm, pain in my skull, fatigue, and horrific flashbacks to name but a few. My wife, Shawna, would capture a video of an episode the first night there that would cause a panic, but again nothing was found.

Within a week of visits, a nurse who was a former student of mine would advocate that I was not a frequent flyer who needed Naloxone, but there was something seriously wrong. I would be placed on Keppra and booked in for a referral to Neurology. I kept tracking the events, the symptoms, and my flashbacks…rush of emotions and mosaics of the events I had been a participant in over 20 years of trying to discover how to love my neighbour, and responding not to the code or commodity before me, but the person.

Early EEG’s would show wildfire like Epileptic sparking activity, and I would be raised to the highest dose of Keppra possible, one that should have left me not very functional. Yet I kept trucking along.

By October 4, 2017 I had finally crashed and burned at work. My last contact before the call in being an instance of workplace bullying, my boss the next morning we spoke as I had left a simple cracking voice mail message simply, “I can’t” as I cried after an overnight of multiple seizures and night terrors. I would first go on short term disability through Employment Insurance, before accessing the Long Term Disability as I was not improving.

The neurology unit at the Peter Lougheed did the best they could, but my case was complex. I was referred to the Epilepsy Centre at the Foothills Medical Centre. Where looking at my reports, and the question was raised what was happening. I was put in the queue to have an in-patient observation done which would finally happen in the first week of September 2018 at the South Health Campus.

A week of observation captured many types of my seizure events from full body, to eye rolling, to arm tremor, to head shaking while I was wired in to the EEG the whole time. I left the unit without any medications and began the journey of detoxing from the Keppra in my system. Still having around 1-9 seizures a day (down from my time working when it was between 40-60 seizures a day).

In November I would get my results, after hearing that it was a huge discussion within Epileptologists about what was happening with my brain. To simply take the EEG’s or to factor in my history to come to a firm diagnosis about what the next steps would be.

The next steps?

A diagnosis of Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures (PNES), probably caused by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder which led to a referral to the psychotherapy portion of the Epilepsy Centre, that is two PhD psychologists trained to work with PNES and Epilepsy whether occurring separately or co-occurring.

Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures (PNES):

Seizures that are not related to Epilepsy. All the same challenges and fears from fall to sudden death, yet not treatable by any anti-epileptic or anti-convulsion medications. Mine were triggered by PTSD. Treatment is psychotherapy.

 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)[1]:

What used to be called Shell Shock.

•Moved into a mental health diagnosis.

•Questions still remained about why some treatments worked and others did not.

•Recently, studies have shown there is 3 main types:

1.       Traumatic Brain Injury (formerly shell shock)-the physical damage to the brain

2.       Mental health

3.       Both combined

For a diagnosis these must be present for at least a month, 1 from each category:

•At least one re-experiencing symptom: flashbacks, frightening thoughts, bad dreams

•At least one avoidance symptom: staying away from places, objects or events that are reminders of traumatic events; avoiding thoughts or feelings related to events.

•At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms: angry outbursts, feeling tense or on edge, difficulty sleeping, easily startled.

•At least two cognition and mood symptoms: trouble remembering key features of event, negative thoughts about oneself or the world, distorted feelings of loss or guilt, loss of interest in enjoyable activities

Some factors that increase risk for PTSD include:

•Living through dangerous events and traumas

•Getting hurt

•Seeing another person hurt, or seeing a dead body

•Childhood trauma

•Feeling horror, helplessness, or extreme fear

•Having little or no social support after the event

•Dealing with extra stress after the event, such as loss of a loved one, pain and injury, or loss

 

[1] All generalities of mental health diagnosis are derived from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual V (DSM-V).

 

 

On February 14, 2019 I began the journey of rewiring my brain. This is the story of discovery and healing. It is as the Hear O’ Israel prayer states the Shema as phrased by Brother Jesus. My whole life had been centered on loving my neighbour, now it was time to authentically discover how to love myself.

 


Forwards

Where friends share their thoughts

There have been so many epic journeys in the history of mankind, to new lands, to other planets.  To the bottom of the ocean and the tops of mountains.  All of these travels have been based on experimentation and testing, facts and outcomes.  They all have one goal, to arrive somewhere to conquer and to own.  And yet, the greatest journeys ever embarked upon are those of the human spirit into self.  It still takes bravery beyond understanding, acceptance of risk and the hope that the learning will enhance the life being lived, but these travels go without the blessing of prior experimentation and testing, facts and outcomes.  Rather the journey into understanding self is into the greatest unknown, often because it is still being written.

Spiritual understanding is a multi-faceted and complex concept that is incredibly simple in its make-up, but almost out of reach for us to grasp and understand.  Unless you are Ty Ragan.

What I have seen over and over again in my 60 years, filled with love and loss, trauma and grief, blessings and agonies beyond belief, is that some rare souls do not get caught up in all of the facets of this life being lived, but rather can maintain a simplicity lens that allows what is being seen to be pure, authentic and just.  Ty is this soul.  Over the years, through wars fought and challenges faced, he has remained friend, father, spouse, spiritual leader and an example to many.  His ability to rise above comes from standing tall every day and knowing that all will be as it is meant to be, if he allows it.

And then it happened.  His own brain betrayed him, and for the first time I saw Ty’s stance wobble.  Holding up his son, his dear Boi, hugging his daughter, standing with his partner were all blessings he was called to live, but when he had to face something within him that he could not only not control, but not stop, I saw Ty’s face change to a face of frustration and pain and loss.  When I visited him in hospital and heard him talk about work I heard loss.  His care for others, for the most broken and vulnerable was taken away because he had to now just try to survive the unknown of each day for himself.  Ty’s indomitable spirit was under attack and the brain that had always guided and strengthened him now threatened his very being, and I even heard anger.  I saw fear.

And of course, this is the journey we all live, what we can control and what we cannot, but in the end, Ty took his life back.  He began to celebrate every hour without a seizure.  He invited us all in to join with him in shouting from the rooftops “Halleluiah” when a day went by without the horror of a seizure.  And that is where the Ty that I have known and respected and loved for years came back.  His ability to identify that the work he had loved and given his heart to had also harmed him.  This work of caring for others comes with a price for each of us and only if we can identify it can we heal it and Ty has done just this.  Facing this, honouring it, honouring himself and all that he has given, is where the healing began.  His spiritual self was born again.    “Treatment”, whatever it is, whatever it is for, is only touching our bodies.  Ty wrapped himself in courage and took on the needed “treatment” for his soul and that is where true healing lies.  By caring enough about himself to see he is worthy of this journey, he has exampled to all of us our own value.

And so I am braver.  I am more authentic.  I celebrate my spirituality.  I am less afraid because Ty Ragan showed me how to do this.  This is the man I am blessed to call friend.

Deb Runnalls, RSW

Friend & Mentor

I worked with Ty as he continued to try to work amid the mounting health issues that he had been suffering from.    I remember how hard it was for him not to do the simple things that brought him happiness because of the seizures.  The inability to write anything really hit him hard, but not as hard as the looks of concern that his children had on their faces as he started the process to heal.  I have had the great honor in counting him among my close friends, and I have been able to help in even the smallest way to where he is now, compared to a year ago.

There were times where the frustration of the all the specialist’s appointments, and the inability to express his frustrations or concerns, as his seizures made sleep or any activity very difficult.  I remember the humor he found in being referred to a specialist that he had worked with in professional setting as an advocate for a client, who happened to be a patient of the specialist.  Despite the roadblocks he faced and the many seizures that he faced, Ty never lost hope that there would be a solution to be found.  I remember celebrating the small victories, such as a reduction in the number of seizures.  Even if it was still upwards of a dozen seizures a day, they fact that the number reduced was reason to celebrate over a cup of coffee.  When the final diagnosis of Psychogenic Non- Epileptic seizures was given to him, there was a sense of relief.  Though he was still 6 months away from the treatment, this was the turning point for him.  Slowly the frequency of the seizures decreased, and he began to write again.  The joy this brought him continued to fuel his faith that this part of his life would have a positive ending.  Today I see the mentor and friend that I knew over the many years of working together.  I am happy he is now celebrating days of being seizure instead of the decrease in the frequency.  I look forward to seeing the reflection of his whole experience as he moves from days to months and years of being seizure free.

Scott Hofstetter, RSW

Friend and colleague


What is discernment? And why does recreating an old newsroom bring thoughts of it up?

Watch here.


What is the spiritual discipline of obedience truly about?

Watch here.